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Lawrence Lewis was George Washington's nephew, the son of Washington's sister Betty. Lewis assisted his uncle with the management of Mount Vernon after Washington's retirement from the Presidency, beginning in August 1797. After George Washington's death in 1799, Lewis helped Martha Washington in the same capacity until 1802.
During the Whiskey Rebellion, Lewis served as General Daniel Morgan's aide-de-camp in western Pennsylvania in 1794. Lewis arrived at Mount Vernon to begin his management duties on the evening of August 31, 1797. Washington explained to Lewis his responsibilities: "I require some person (fit & Proper) to ease me of the trouble of entertaining company; particularly Nights, as it is my inclination to retire. . .either to bed, or to my study, soon after candle light." Washington continued, "And for a little time only, to come, an hour in the day, now and then, devoted to the recording of some Papers which time would not allow me to complete before I left Philadelphia, would also be acceptable."1
Lewis' first wife Susannah Edmundson died during childbirth in 1790. On George Washington's last birthday, February 22, 1799, Lawrence Lewis married Martha Washington's youngest granddaughter, Eleanor (Nelly) Parke Custis. In the fall of that year, Washington rented the Dogue Run farm, mill, and distillery to Lewis. In addition, Washington promised to will Lewis his outlying farm land so the couple could settle close to Mount Vernon.2
The couple moved to their Woodlawn plantation, living in a mansion designed by U.S. Capitol architect William Thornton. In 1831, after vandals attempted to steal George Washington's body from his tomb at Mount Vernon, Lawrence Lewis along with George Washington Parke Custis built a new brick tomb where George Washington, Martha Washington, and other family members were reinterred.
1. "George Washington to Lawrence Lewis, 4 August 1797," The Writings of George Washington, Vol. 36.
2. "George Washington to Lawrence Lewis, 20 September 1799," The Writings of George Washington, Retirement Series, Vol. 37.